Magazine

RFID Tags Run Garage Maintenance

By Diana Alarcon and Larry Berman

Companies with broad spectrums of assets rely on timely reporting for effective management. Most asset management deals with automatic tracking of key assets as they move in and out of an area by means of bar coding or RFID tags.
Parking operations in Fort Lauderdale, FL, have taken RFID, or radio frequency identification, to the next step by using this technology to track parking garage operations and security. They have implemented a program to enhance the elements of garage security, garage operations, multi-space meter inspection and parking meter collection canister assignments.
RFID chips have been installed throughout their garages. One of the key issues was to address security patrols. The garages are patrolled floor by floor on an hourly basis while they record issues that require attention. These items include but are not limited to the following: trip and fall; lighting; spills of all types and water puddling; customer issues.
Every floor has a RFID tag scanned by the security patrol person. The activity is dated and time-stamped. All issues are reported on the PDA and are addressed in the form of a work order.
Since the installation, multiple issues have been resolved using the reports generated by this system, which included muggings, safety issues such as trip and fall, and abandoned vehicles.
With the use of a PDA-equipped with a RFID reader, they are able to track key elements throughout the garage for each asset. These activities are scheduled using a simple application in the asset management software.
When an employee who has been assigned to this program turns on his handheld in the morning and reads his ID badge with the PDA, the screen shows the scheduled inspections for that day. Some inspections are daily; others are weekly, monthly and yearly. Any item that was scheduled to be inspected that day and has not been done will show up the next day in the supervisor’s first screen after they sign on.
The supervisor then can take whatever corrective action is necessary. The software provides for the issuance of a work order for any item that has been inspected and needs follow-up. Work that has been done as a result of the inspection can be noted, such as the replacement of parts.
The software also provides for daily inspection by the security guards as they make their rounds through the garage. With use of the security guard’s PDA they can report any condition they find. This helps in the reduction of insurance claims by reporting the incidents in a timely manner.
Every multi-space meter has an RFID chip embedded in the unit. When a device maintainer inspects a meter, the handheld records the date and time. If no work is needed, they continue on to the next meter. Sometimes issues may need to be addressed immediately, such as instruction replacement, graffiti removal, loose base, cable replacement, printer replacement and replacement of a bill acceptor.
These items are recorded by the handheld and are uploaded to the web-enabled server via Active Sync. This information is used to report to the manufacturer equipment issues that continuously arise. It also is used to track trends in maintenance of the units and parts needed for ongoing replacement.
The web-enabled server provides all employees with the appropriate sign-on the ability to use the application to get reports. Only the administrator can change the database.
The software provides a sort function for reporting that enables the user to get just the information required. The user is able to search by date or date range, a given machine, or all of the units for every problem or a specific issue by garage or by floor. As part of the process to automate the parking operation, an inventory system will be installed that will realize several benefits:
• Improved tool maintenance and operability
• Increased cost savings with the reduction in overall use of consumables such as gloves and batteries.
• Improved department budgeting
• Reduced asset loss
• Asset status and location
• Minimum reorder values
Diverse companies have deployed successful first-stage implementation of RFID applications for asset management with tremendous success. RFID can automate and “error proof” this crucial business process, delivering a wealth of benefits.
Diana Alarcon, Assistant Parking Manager for the city of Fort Lauderdale, FL, can be reached at dalarcon@fortlauderdale.gov. Larry Berman, a former head of parking for the city of New York and now a Florida-based consultant, can be reached at lawrenceberman@att.net.

Sidebar:
Items Tracked Using RFID:
• Security
• Elevator operations
• Gates
• Ticket dispensers
• Signage and markings
• Fire-extinguisher inspection
• Facility cleanliness
• Lighting

Article Abstract from November, 2008




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